By Karen Rubins
Blood Magic is an interesting concept, an interesting idea. A 24 page comic all about the old magics, blood magics in medieval society and the matriarchal power structure that the power of blood magic necessitates.
Rubins’ manga style art is very attractive, and the subtle, sparing use of red to highlight the blood works well – each appearance stands out, the extra colour drawing the eye straight to the blood, straight to the focus of the story.
And the story itself, of a medieval village protected by the blood magic of the village women has much going for it.
The women serve the village as witches, meeting as a coven in the hilltop stone circle alongside the village. Their blood magic is used as protection for the village, protection that proves necessary later in the tale as a magical, mythical attack takes place.
Alongside this is the tale of young girl; Lys, her youth making her a strong member of the protective coven. But she’s about to unsettle the careful balance of village and magical life with her friendship with young Dain, whose obsession with blood magic seems destined to cause trouble.
Because Dain, as a young man, has to rely on lifeblood rather than magic gifted from the moon. And it’s quite clear from early on that this route is a dangerous one.
Amongst the ideas of magic and blood, there’s also a psychological element – of the obsession with magic for Dain leading to a young man who cuts himself to attain power, of cutting for control. It adds a poignant and disturbing extra layer to the tale.
But, despite a good, interesting idea, nice artwork and a good story, there’s a problem with Rubins’ execution. It feels too big for the 24 pages of the comic. Almost as if Rubins’ story was far lengthier than this, far more detailed and involved. And the necessary editing and cutting down has merely reduced it to a series of moments, captured in panels rather than a satisfying story that flows from scene to scene.
It’s a shame really, because I think I’d have liked to have read Rubins’ longer tale, where the interesting ideas and concepts would have more room to develop properly with the depth she wants, tries to include here, but it would also have made for a smoother, more narratively satisfying story.
Blood Magic is available from Karen Rubins’ website and blog for free, although Rubins is asking for a donation to the V&A, where she was the visiting artist. She’ll also be giving away copies at MCM Expo. Take a look at her website for several other interesting looking comics, including Urban Beasts, a very intriguing looking 2 issue comic series.